Well folks, we made it. The start to another CSA season! As the TC3 Farm embarks on its third season, I find myself thinking a lot about the farm (I’m sure all farmers are constantly thinking about their farms). I think about where we started and how far that we’ve come in such a short time. I think about where we are going and need to be. Every new season begins with excitement but I’m feeling an extra burst when I take a step back and watch this farm grow and develop.
There are a lot of firsts for us so far in the 2016 season. This is the first year that we have had our greenhouse up and running in the Winter, so we were able to start our seedlings on site. We’ve got awesome friends over at Main Street Farms who rented us greenhouse space for our first 2 growing seasons. But it wasn’t really the most efficient use of our time. This also allowed us to increase our seedlings for sale for the first time. We grew custom seedling for folks and also got to participate in GreenTree Garden Supplies first ever Farm to Garden Plant Sale Days. Another benefit to having the greenhouse up and running was that we were able to grow in our bed space this Winter into Spring. The greenhouse lettuce, along with veggies from our 3 hoophouses, allowed us to have a farm stand on campus in the Spring semester for the first time. There are many other firsts that I’m omitting (or forgetting) for time’s sake but a huge one for our Sustainable Farming and Food Systems program at Tompkins Cortland Community College was that we had our first students graduate. We have a great group of students in the Sustainable Farming and Food Systems program taking a Summer Course in Integrated Pest Management spending a lot of time on the farm In addition to being out at the TC3 Farm, we try and visit other area farms and food businesses.
Ok, so I can go on and on but most folks are probably ready to hear about the start of the CSA season. Let me start off by saying welcome to those folks who are new to the TC3 Farm CSA and welcome back and thank you to those folks who are returning for another season.
Well, it has been a wonky Spring, to say the least. After a Winter that was never really Winter, the Spring didn’t know what to do. Cold. Warm. Hot. Really hot. Dry. Too dry. Wet. Cool. Humid. Cold. As the weather remained unpredictable, as it always does this time a year, we forged ahead by continuing to plant as we normally do. Out of all that unpredictability, the hot and really hot in early May is a total bummer. Most of the crops that we plant in the early season are Brassicas. They prefer the cooler weather so we usually plant them in the Springtime and Fall. One thing about Brassicas is that they need to be covered with floating row cover to protect them from these little tiny pests called flea beetles. If we leave those plants covered, some of them will begin to bolt or flower, which then makes them super bitter and undesirable. If we leave them uncovered, then the flea beetles can get start eating holes in the leaves or whole plants, which happens with some of our direct seeded crops. Needless to say, we were caught between a rock and a hard place. We’ve lost some plants to bolting and flea beetles. So, if any of your greens this Spring have little holes in them, it’s most likely from flea beetles.
Spring is the time for planting and greenhouse work and we’ve been doing a lot of it. Some highlights for the upcoming season are 26 varieties of tomatoes in our hoophouses and field. 11 varieties of potatoes. Lots of winter squash, some new summer squash varieties and some new pepper varieties, along with many other crops.
A couple of things that I’m really excited about for the CSA this year is 1) we started a u-pick herb garden in raised beds by one of our hoophouses and 2) we will be offering eggs for sale at the pick up. The eggs for sale are from one of our students who has a fledgling business, Grow Where You R.
Alright, on to everyone’s question, “what’s in this week’s share?”. The early part of the season is always on the leaner side, with lots of greens. A lot of it has to do with that unpredictability of the weather. But you folks with the Full Season share will really get to experience how the share grows as we move along throughout the season. In this week’s share, we will have some arugula, turnip greens, salad turnips, which are super tasty raw or any which way you prepare them, some rutabaga that we’ve been storing since last fall, garlic greens, bok choi and strawberries! I’m super pumped that you guys are getting strawberries this week. We planted them last season, got a real small amount, but this is their first season of full production. I’ve been sampling the last 2 weeks and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Oh, and we’ll also have seedlings for you to choose from. Mostly tomatoes and basil (mmmm…. tomatoes and basil) but there will be some other herbs and veggies to choose from.
If you’re not familiar with garlic greens (or green garlic), it is a very young garlic plant. The bulb hasn’t formed yet and the whole thing is edible. I find myself using it just as I would garlic cloves but I find it much milder. I really like it with eggs or an omelet.
I’m looking forward to seeing new and old faces tomorrow and to a great growing season. Thanks so much for coming along for the ride. Until next time….